Reviewby Theron Martin, Sep 25th 2009
Eureka Seven - good night, sleep tight, young lovers -
In the early 21th century, Earth came under attack from the alien Azo, who creep their influence across the globe over the course of the next few decades. That initially means little to a young Renton Thurston, however, who delights in hanging out with the sunlight-averse girl Eureka and Nirvash, a cutesy little critter who will one day grow into a transforming mecha-like being. Though the two make a wish to stay together forever, Fate and certain military forces have other plans, and they are cruelly torn apart. Eight years later the two are reunited when Renton, who has become a military mecha pilot using Nirvash's grown-up form, rescues a “special item” from a base under Azo attack, an item which happens to be a very fatalistic Eureka. During the struggles that follow, Renton and an aged investigator independently and gradually learn the truth about Eureka's alien nature, the purpose various factions mean for her to serve, and the real nature and motives of the crew of the airship Gekko, Renton's military unit. With the government in the process of enacting a bold plan to use a space-based solar laser to wipe out the Azo (but at the cost of incalculable damage), everyone's future may ultimately depend on the dreams of one teenage boy, the girl he loves, and their role in a fateful myth.
As you might be able to tell from the synopsis, the Eureka 7 movie is not a continuation of the 50-episode TV series, nor is it a side story or condensed retelling of the series' plot, as are typically the case with series-based anime movies. It is, instead, a complete reimagining of the basic concept designed specifically to be played out in a two hour time frame, a reinterpretation similar to what Escaflowne: The Movie did for the TV series Vision of Escaflowne. For that reason, a viewer does not need to be familiar with the TV series at all in order to appreciate the movie; in fact, it was intended to be fully accessible to newcomers. The main benefits to having seen the TV series first are really just to appreciate all of the cameos and compare the very vaguely parallel story structures the two creations follow. (Oh, and those who have seen the TV series will also see a key late plot twist coming a mile away, although the event in question has a much greater impact here than it did in the TV series.)
Evaluated independently, the movie tells an oft-dark but still rousing story full of bold actions and bolder emotions, one where the almost desperate love of its central leads sometimes clashes violently with equally desperate quest for survival by the crew of the Gekko and the world in general. It sports a few fantastic action sequences full of wonderfully complicated aerial maneuvers and spectacular displays of power, but the focus of the storytelling falls more heavily on the central romance. The writing slightly overplays the degree to which Renton and Eureka fuss over each other, but they do make a convincing couple and manage moments that are sweet and/or comical when not fending for their lives or enduring harsh treatment. Opposing them is a crew with their own potent reasons for wanting to say “screw you” to the rest of the world and ignore everyone else in their quest to find a way to keep living, while a third plot thread focuses on an old lady whose search for truth provides a clever way to investigate backstory. The actual mechanics behind everything can be a bit hard to follow, but they are low enough on the priority scale that they pose no barrier to enjoying the content. Thrown in for good measure is the whole classic “bring about the apocalypse to destroy the enemy” and “some are going to escape the planet on a special ship” schemes, but the latter thread also fades into the background against the simpler but grander events directly surrounding Renton, Eureka, Nirvash, and the Gekko.
For those who have seen the series, the movie is a fresh take on the characters and themes viewers grew to love (or hate!) over the course of the first series coupled with a story that only in a very general way resembles the original. Most significant characters from the TV series make at least cameo appearances here, with the notable exceptions being Charles, Ray, Gonzy, and Norb. Many other prominent locations and features also make cameos, including The End, the book Holland was always reading, and the Voderac shrine, although the settings are otherwise quite different; Belle Forest does not appear at all, for instance, and this story seems to be based on Earth rather than Scub Coral. Most significantly, the Scub Coral and Corallions do not exist in this setting, although their function in the story has been more or less subsumed by the Azo; in fact, the antibodies and spherical Corallions seen in the TV series have become Azo in this version. Though the specifics and the way she is handled by the government are very different, Eureka also serves more or less the same function for the Azo that she did for the Scub Coral. By stripping the story down to a mere two hours much of the more noxious content from the series – the whining and personal growth moments – also get filtered out, making for a more solid story overall.
Most of the basic character relationships are the same, as “Holland” and Talho are still a couple, but the nature and temperament of many characters is very different. The Gekko's crew, for instance, is not a counter-culture group loaded with ex-military personnel, but rather a group of people with the same highly unusual problem and a fixation on Peter Pan, which skews the personality of some of them a lot, especially the much more ruthless Hap and the harder-edged “Holland.” (In the movie he stole the name from another character who went by a different name in the TV series.) Dominick has a vastly different role in the movie, and Anemone, when she appears, is not only sane but remarkably calm and philosophical; it would be hard to recognize her as the same character were the appearances not consistent. Renton does not have time to be whiny here but is otherwise the same boy struggling to understand and do what's necessary to grow up and get the girl, while Eureka occasionally shows a harder and more fiercely determined side (relatively speaking) than she did in the series – but considering the far greater degree of suffering she had to go through in the movie's backstory, that's to be expected. Nirvash, by contrast, is utterly different, at first an adorably cute little alien with a signature sound who only later morphs into the mecha form seen in the series.
The most disappointing aspect of the movie is that the visuals have not substantially upgraded from the series. Putting the movie on the big screen also causes the flaws and moments of quality control drop-off that Bones is infamous for to show more clearly, and there are several of them throughout the film. The action scenes fully capture the spectacle of those in the series, however, and the animation is a little better. The costuming remains pretty much the same as that seen in the series, albeit with Talho in her “second half” outfit throughout and with Eureka lacking her signature barrette for much of the series, which results in her hair looking a little longer and more unkempt. Eureka does take on a markedly different appearance in the movie's final scenes that is quite the eye-popper, however. Fan service and graphic content both increase a little from the series DVD releases but neither is severe.
Although the soundtrack reuses some themes from the TV series, it mostly creates new ones and they mostly work well, especially in the more intense scenes. The only slight flaw here is a couple of scenes which probably should have had backing music but don't. The credits roll to the great hard rock song “Space Rock” by iLL.
The entirety of the English voice cast from Bang Zoom's dub of the TV series has not only returned but effortlessly resumed their roles; even Johnny Yong Bosch, who struggled early on with Renton in the TV series, seems more comfortable and natural in the role now. The English script uses a couple of interesting translation choices in places, but since only the dub was available their accuracy could not be verified.
Accompanying the theatrical broadcast was a 25-minute “behind the scenes” featurette hosted by Johnny Bosch which primarily focused on the English dubbing but did include extensive comments by original director Tomoki Kyoda. Whether or not this will be included on any future DVD release is unknown, but at the very least the bloopers/outtakes tagged onto the very end must be on any DVD release or they will become one of those sought-after lost treasures. (Yes, they are that funny, especially the more dirty-minded ones.)
Tomoki Kyoda said in his interview that, “I think that making people enjoy their two hours is the point of the movie.” This good night, sleep tight, young lovers does very well. Any fan of the franchise who accepts up front that this is going to be a radical reinterpretation should walk away quite satisfied, and newcomers should find it involving enough to be worth their time.
Overall (dub) : A-
Story : A-
Animation : A
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Great action scenes, compelling central couple, numerous cameos from the TV series.
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